Kenya Rural Electrification Authority
Updated: Jun 8, 2022
Program for Energy Access at Refugee Camps in Kenya
In 2012, the Kenyan Rural Electrification Agency (REA) was was tasked by the central government to develop an energy access solution for the refugee camps on the Kenyan borders with South Sudan and Somalia. By 2012, the five camps at Dadaab held over 450,000 refugees. Run by the UNHCR, these camps featured no permanent infrastructure and no permanent electrical generation facilities.
The Last Kilometer team worked with the Kenyan Rural to develop a plan that would also address their long-term goals of expanding the national grid and of using more sustainable energy sources. The solution called for a mobile solar and battery system, which could be deployed ahead of grid expansion. Providing reliable service would allow a stable base of electrical customers to be developed ahead of each new expansion of the transmission lines. As the national grid reached these remote towns, the relocatable system could be moved forward to provide power to the next expansion site.
The program initially targeted the town of Lokichogio on the border with South Sudan for the pilot project. In this community is home to 49 NGOs and a large orthopedic hospital run by the ICRC, all of which would see their operating costs reduced by access to a centralized clean power production plant. The pilot site was later moved to the central town of Laisamis in Marsabit County, and a contract for the project was awarded to a Kenyan developer.
In November 2013, the Foreign Ministries of Somalia and Kenya and the UNHCR signed a tripartite agreement in Mogadishu paving the way for the voluntary repatriation of Somalia nationals living in Dadaab. The requirements that The Last Kilometer team members helped the REA develop remain a viable blueprint for the expansion of grid services in Sub-saharan Africa and a solution to the challenge of creating temporary energy infrastructure in refugee camps.